Less than one year after being named president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Oliver North — the former Iran-Contra scandal figure and Fox News host — is out in what appears to be a failed coup attempt against longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre.
On Saturday, at the powerful gun lobby’s annual convention, North said he was resigning in a letter read on his behalf.
In recent days, North had accused LaPierre of mishandling funds, including making some $200,000 in wardrobe purchases. But LaPierre responded Thursday evening by accusing North of trying to pressure him to resign with the help of the NRA’s longtime advertising agency Ackerman McQueen.
Earlier this month, the NRA sued the ad agency for repeatedly refusing to provide “basic business records” that could justify its billings — including the details of its contract with North, who hosts a program on NRATV produced by the agency.
In a letter to the NRA Board, published Friday by the Wall Street Journal, the NRA chief executive said North had warned that if LaPierre didn’t resign, North would send the board a letter that “would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.”
North also sent a letter to the board Thursday evening, according to the Journal, in which he said he was only trying to act for the benefit of the NRA and that the board needed to scrutinize the organization’s finances.
But, in the end, LaPierre, who has served as the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO since 1991, appears to have demonstrated that he, not North, retains the support of the board.
This financial turmoil may have been driven in part by the hit to the NRA’s image and revenue that has occurred since the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the subsequent activism by students.
The NRA, for instance, had sharply cut the money it spent on the 2018 midterm elections.
Finally, The Daily Beast reported Saturday that the NRA has suspended attorney Steve Hart, longtime counsel to its board. A full reckoning of the recent turmoil may not be determined until Monday’s meeting of the NRA’s full 76-member board.